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The Italian Job by Kathryn Freeman #Review #Giveaway

  Kathyrn Freeman is one of my favoutite romance / romcom writers and I am delighted to be part of the celebrations for her latest novel, The Italian Job . Published by One More Chapter on May 6th, I am also thrilled to be able to offer you the chance to win a paperback copy. Details on how to enter this giveaway are at the foot of this post.    Dream job. Dream house. Fake fiancé. A year in a gorgeous Italian castle… When Anna Roberts’ life implodes, an online search leads her to an ad for the ultimate dream job – management of a gorgeous castle on the shores of Lake Como, accommodation included. The only catch? Anna can’t do it alone… …With the last man on earth she’d choose! The castle owners will only accept a couple as caretakers, which means Anna needs a man on her arm at the interview. Enter her neighbour, Jake Tucker. Though Anna and Jake have never seen eye-to-eye, Jake’s had a rough few years and an escape to Italy sounds ideal. Yet, when they get the job and jet

Lawless and the House of Electricity by William Sutton **Blog Tour Author Post**

Today I am welcoming author William Sutton to Books, Life and Everything with a fantastic guest post. 
Lawless & the House of Electricity by William Sutton, third in his series of Lawless mysteries exploring the darker sides of Victorian London, is published by Titan Books. It is a historical crime novel, yet shares elements with the steampunk genre.
 Welcome William and over to you!

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“The past is the new future” – from sci-fi to steampunk

C:\Users\William\Pictures\Writing\Website\Blog pics\Blogs Electric\Steampunk Scifi\great_victorian_way_3.jpgThe “Crystal Way” would have spanned London with road, rail and pedestrian tiers, triumphantly solving congestion in a feat of engineering to make the world gasp.
So runs a passage in the first Lawless novel, The Devil of Euston Square, trumpeting one of the capital’s great unbuilt transports projects. It would solve traffic problems, housing glorious shops, railways and roads in a huge glass hemisphere. They never built it (the Circle line follows its route); but it would have been Steampunk as hell, eh?
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Except think of what they built instead: trains underground. Steam trains, in tunnels, under the very buildings of London. What could be more Steampunk than that?

How it all began
“The past is the new future,” wrote John Crowley in Lapham’s Quarterly.
Ever since Bruce Stirling and William Gibson redefined a genre with The Difference Engine, ever since Alan Moore (who gave us dystopian sci-fi graphic novel Watchmen) with steampunk vision of London From Hell, the past increasingly has begun to remind us of the future. No surprsie that Titan’s Cavan Scott writes both Holmes books and Dr Who tie-ins.
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A long time ago, in a galaxy far away…
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All novels are about the present, even when they are not.     Escapism, yes, yes, and a vision of things to come. But...

As any science fiction or fantasy writer will tell you and many readers will know, sci-fi is a cunning way of making us look at ourselves. (No wonder the Russians complained about Star Trek until Mr Chekhov was introduced; well done to Leonard Nimoy for standing up for Nichelle Nichols (Lt Uhuru) to keep her on the show.)

As any historical novelist knows, we also write about the past to understand ourselves.

Clocks? – oh, I’ll read that
My first inkling that I’d written a novel that appealed to the steampunk community (a broad church) was a conversation in Southsea Library. Two bearded guys overheard me telling the librarian about my book. They had a squint at the cover.
“Has it got clocks?” said one. “Oh, I’ll read that.”
At Forbidden Planet, I was discussing my upcoming launch of Flowers of Sin. Assistant manager Lou listened to my pitch of what the book was about.
“I’ve read it,” she said.
I goggled.
“Clocks?” she said. “Underground trains? Hydraulic engines? Yep. Loved it.”

My Steampunk Friends
From knowing nothing of Steampunk, either the literature or the fashion, I am soon to perform a Jules Verne-ish tale at the Gosport Steampunk Society’s Subaquatic Steam Weekend.
I’ll be going to the Sci-fi exhibit at Barbican
And we’ll be repeating the Steampunk fun had at my book launches last year. Thanks, Tony and Zoe of Head Case Curios, and photographers Nina McIlwain, Tessa Ditner and Lucy Prosser.

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The Mechanical Turk plays a key role in my second novel, an extraordinary proto-robot that inspired both the Difference Engine and the Spinning Jenny, thus kicking off not just the Industrial Revolution but the Computing Age.

My third draws inspiration from genuine London disasters which happened in the 1860s but seem strangely futuristic, weaving two crucial strands of Lawless & the House of Electricity: death and terrorism. The Erith gunpowder explosion (October 1864), Mersey explosion (January 1864), Camden derailment (August 1864), and Clerkenwell Prison break (December 1867).
It features the Solent forts – everybody’s favourite escape plan for a zombie apocalypse:
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And a range of dodgy devices to outdo anything you find on ebay today. Pulvermacher’s Electric Corset, Dr Carter Moffat’s Ammoniaphone, and Harness’s Electric corset, etc etc.

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I leave you with real images of Victorian London:
  • collapsing tube trains
  • trial runs in the underground
  • Great Eastern under construction
  • banquet at Farringdon Station
And I ask: doesn’t this look like an alternate future? Or else a science fiction past?
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Soundcloud readings/interviews

About the Book

In London's East End, a corpse tumbles from a ship. Tangled in tarpaulin, it has lain forgotten for years. A scrap of paper in its pocket reads 'Roxbury'. 

The shadows of European machinations loom over the capital. For Sergeant Campbell Lawless, fears become reality as a series of explosions tear across the country. Home Office anxieties lead Lawless to Roxbury House, where the Earl of Roxbury, the country's foremost weapons manufacturer, resides with a cavalcade of innovative scientists and researchers. Lawless places his best agent, ex-street urchin Molly, in the Earl's home as he races to find those behind the attacks before the tinderbox of Europe is ignited. 

My Thoughts

This book was a real breath of fresh air. Set in Victorian England, some of the true life events seemed presciently of today and there were so many characters, each with their own idiosyncrasies. My favourite was Molly, who is sent undercover to Roxbury House and who, with her irreverence and curious mind, sets out to search out the truth. With a complicated plot to unravel and lots of interest from the whole style of writing, the book fairly sizzles with life and authentic detail. I loved the Victorian - style adverts for tonics and strange sounding appliances, dotted throughout. 

    Because of William Lawson's post (as above), I found myself googling steampunk to discover just what this was all about. Retro-technology? Victorian inspired technology with a fantasy twist? Mmm I'll stop there before those who really know leap in. What's certain to me is that there are many layers to this book. A straightforward historical crime fiction book it is not. There were gothic overtones, with a madwoman in the attic, a rambling mansion and mysterious grounds.

In short: Victorian crime mystery meets steampunk meets gothic.

About the Author

William Sutton comes from Dunblane, Scotland. He has written for |The Times and The Fortean Times, acted in the longest play in the world, and played cricket for Brazil. He writes for international magazines about language, music and futurology. His plays have been produced on radio and in London fringe theatres. He has performed at events from the Edinburgh Festival to High Down Prison, often wielding a ukulele.

Thanks to Lydia Gittins and Titan Books for a copy of the book and a place on the Blog Tour.

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